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Marine landscape mapping in submarine canyons

Marine landscape mapping in submarine canyons
Marine landscape mapping in submarine canyons
As the largest portion of the Earth's surface, the deep-sea contains various ecosystems and harbours among the highest biodiversity on the planet. Complex deep-sea environments such as submarine canyons are some of the true ecosystem hotspots harbouring extensive species diversity owing to their high terrain variability. However, their complexity and limited accessibility has left many unanswered questions concerning their spatial structure and ecology. Recently, there has been an increasing amount of interest to understand the ecosystem function of this challenging environment, which has led to the development of technology to enable accessibility for research and exploration. Along with this, evidence of anthropogenic impacts has been uncovered, and this calls for more effective management in this complex type of deep-sea environment. Although there is a growing awareness for conservation in the deep-sea, scientific knowledge to underpin these strategies is still inadequate. Often what is known to the scientific community is not properly conveyed to policy makers. Hence, implementation of marine spatial management is not always successful.

This thesis provides a scientific framework to underpin ecosystem-based management. It examines the seabed spatial structure in submarine canyons by 1) developing a mapping procedure to represent the spatial structure using commonly available data types for seabed studies, 2) proposing an approach to quantify the structural variability as an indicator for biodiversity to aid decision-making in prioritising conservation areas and 3) evaluating the spatial structure information transfer across different spatial scales and data types.

As a result, a novel technique that is objective, automated and statistically robust is developed to map marine landscapes, which are geomorphologically and ecologically meaningful. The marine landscape map is found to be the best representation of environmental characteristics in submarine canyons. Based on this finding, marine landscape configuration and composition is quantified as a proxy for habitat heterogeneity and potentially an indicator of biodiversity. Additionally, the method is transferred to a high-resolution dataset for marine landscape mapping at a local scale, in order to evaluate the evolution of spatial characteristics across data scales. This study reveals that a link between regional and local scale spatial structure can be identified and mapped, and that information from one scale can be transferred to the other. Additionally, regional scale marine landscape maps provide first-level structural information that is suitable and sufficient to facilitate marine spatial management for large heterogeneous areas such as submarine canyons.
Ismail, Khaira
e59d7dad-1923-4886-91ab-b5deb532d97c
Ismail, Khaira
e59d7dad-1923-4886-91ab-b5deb532d97c
Huvenne, Veerle
f22be3e2-708c-491b-b985-a438470fa053

(2016) Marine landscape mapping in submarine canyons. University of Southampton, Ocean & Earth Science, Doctoral Thesis, 154pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

As the largest portion of the Earth's surface, the deep-sea contains various ecosystems and harbours among the highest biodiversity on the planet. Complex deep-sea environments such as submarine canyons are some of the true ecosystem hotspots harbouring extensive species diversity owing to their high terrain variability. However, their complexity and limited accessibility has left many unanswered questions concerning their spatial structure and ecology. Recently, there has been an increasing amount of interest to understand the ecosystem function of this challenging environment, which has led to the development of technology to enable accessibility for research and exploration. Along with this, evidence of anthropogenic impacts has been uncovered, and this calls for more effective management in this complex type of deep-sea environment. Although there is a growing awareness for conservation in the deep-sea, scientific knowledge to underpin these strategies is still inadequate. Often what is known to the scientific community is not properly conveyed to policy makers. Hence, implementation of marine spatial management is not always successful.

This thesis provides a scientific framework to underpin ecosystem-based management. It examines the seabed spatial structure in submarine canyons by 1) developing a mapping procedure to represent the spatial structure using commonly available data types for seabed studies, 2) proposing an approach to quantify the structural variability as an indicator for biodiversity to aid decision-making in prioritising conservation areas and 3) evaluating the spatial structure information transfer across different spatial scales and data types.

As a result, a novel technique that is objective, automated and statistically robust is developed to map marine landscapes, which are geomorphologically and ecologically meaningful. The marine landscape map is found to be the best representation of environmental characteristics in submarine canyons. Based on this finding, marine landscape configuration and composition is quantified as a proxy for habitat heterogeneity and potentially an indicator of biodiversity. Additionally, the method is transferred to a high-resolution dataset for marine landscape mapping at a local scale, in order to evaluate the evolution of spatial characteristics across data scales. This study reveals that a link between regional and local scale spatial structure can be identified and mapped, and that information from one scale can be transferred to the other. Additionally, regional scale marine landscape maps provide first-level structural information that is suitable and sufficient to facilitate marine spatial management for large heterogeneous areas such as submarine canyons.

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More information

Published date: December 2016
Organisations: University of Southampton, Geology & Geophysics

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 396600
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/396600
PURE UUID: 65a99150-2f09-4f9f-8a14-114e1c76cc53
ORCID for Veerle Huvenne: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7135-6360

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 09 Jun 2016 15:26
Last modified: 13 Jun 2019 00:36

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Contributors

Author: Khaira Ismail
Thesis advisor: Veerle Huvenne ORCID iD

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